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Consultancy is the provision or transfer of existing knowledge and expertise to help an organisation solve a particular issue, or to provide them with longer term strategic advice relevant to the nature of their organisation through a contract for payment.

What activities are counted as consultancy at Reading?

Consultancy includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • a specific agreed programme of work with known outcomes and no planned research element
  • the design, testing or evaluation of a product, service or system or assisting with these processes
  • advising an external organisation using knowledge gained or processes/systems developed at the University
  • using the University’s research facilities and expertise for routine testing and analysis of materials and compounds (classed as technical services, see also below)
  • analysis and reporting (including statistical advice) on various issues relevant to external organisations
  • giving a paid presentation in a seminar or business conference or being paid to write for non-academic sources
  • taking on a paid advisory role (paid through the University)
  • provision of specialist advice and training
  • acting as an expert witness.

Key characteristics of consultancy

  • Application of existing knowledge or expertise to a request from an external body.
  • The primary purpose of the work is not the creation of new knowledge (then it becomes contract research).
  • Usually short timescales (one to 12 months) with defined deliverables.
  • Results of the work will be owned by the external body and may be confidential.
  • There may be limitations on what can be published or disseminated.
  • Should be done at a proper market rate.
  • Develops relationship with organisations which may in time become collaborative partners.

Who can do consultancy?

Anyone. It doesn’t have to be just academics or researchers – it can include technical and professional services staff.

What isn't consultancy?

Consultancy is not research, which involves creation of new knowledge.

In addition, some activities are not classed as University consultancy because they are core to the teaching and research mission of the University. This includes work closely linked to academic role and purpose. For example:

  • external examining (paid or unpaid)
  • participation in external assessment procedures (e.g. REF)
  • membership of committees (e.g. UKRI panels)
  • work on editorial boards of professional journals.

These may involve fees, but any contractual arrangements are made directly with the staff member, rather than the University.

How do I do consultancy?

There are three different classifications of consultancy at Reading.

Individual University consultancy (as distinct from private consultancy) is where an individual would do some discrete consultancy for a client to solve a particular issue. They wouldn’t be paid directly by the client but may get a share of income (in discussion with Head of School) which could be paid to them via the University. There is a limit to the number of days consultancy a member of staff can take. Permission must be obtained from the Head of School and a form must be completed.

Other is for larger projects where there may be more than one person undertaking the work, which may consist of several of the indicative activities listed above, and the timescales would generally be longer than for individual consultancy. Non-centrally funded staff working on the project could be paid directly from the project and no income would be payable to the PI directly. Please contact your contracts manager directly with details of the proposed work.

Technical Services
 is a sub-category of consultancy but one that we have to record separately due to external reporting requirements. Please contact your contracts manager directly with details of the proposed work.

Pricing of consultancy

Consultancy work should be priced at a reasonable market rate; for ease we do not complete a full economic costing for consultancy projects. A standard set of daily rates (PDF, 98KB) is available.